Published January 28, 2021 Friday Olokor , Samson Folarin and Dennis Naku The pan -Yoruba socio -political organisation , Afenifere , and the Pan -Niger…
Published December 29, 2020
Friday Olokor and Godwin Isenyo
THE Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 northern states and Abuja on Monday warned the Presidency and the Muslim Rights Concern against twisting the homily delivered by the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese , Bishop Mathew Kukah on Christmas day .
This is also as the Catholic Church described those attacking the Bishop as agents of evil .
Kukah had in the Christmas message titled , ‘ A nation in search of vindication ’ , accused the President , Major General Muhammadu Buhari( retd .) , of nepotism , noting that Buhari was deliberately sacrificing the dreams of Nigerians to institutionalise northern hegemony .
The cleric’ s statement attracted sharp criticisms and condemnations from the Presidency and MURIC .
But in a statement in Kaduna on Monday titled , ‘ Twisting Bishop Kukah ’ s Christmas message ; injurious to nation -building ’, the Northern CAN defended the cleric , noting that the message reflected the currently reality across the country .
The statement authored by the Vice Chairman , Northern CAN , Rev . John Hayab , said the association was shocked at an attempt by the Presidency and MURIC to twist the message ( Kukah ’s ) and warned against such .
Hayab described as baseless and worrisome the claim by the President of MURIC , Prof . Ishaq Akintola, that Bishop Kukah had referred to Islam “ as a violent religion ” and “ called for a coup ” .
The Northern CAN said there was no expression that suggested that Bishop Kukah ’ s message was an affront to Islam or a call for a coup .
The Christian body argued that such claim was not only laughable but misleading and a tissue of lies.
“ CAN in 19 northern states and Abuja has read with great shock attempts to further divide the nation by the Presidency , the leadership of MURIC and other individuals and groups aimed at twisting the crux of the homily Bishop Kukah gave at Christmas.
“ Sadly , MURIC aims to incite citizens against one another along the lines of faith instead of denouncing the insecurity witnessed across the country , which is the point in Bishop Kukah ’ s message ,” the statement said .
For the avoidance of doubt, the statement noted that “ from the East to the South , West and all over the North , travelling has become a nightmare while hapless people are dragged from their homes for ransom . ”
The Christian body maintained that “ It is time for the Presidency , MURIC , and misinformed individuals to eschew their intolerance and admit that Nigeria under Buhari has strayed from the path and vision that the independence of this great country was fought for and won .”
Similarly , the Director of Social Communication, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria , in CSN , Rev . Fr . Mike Umoh , expressed concern over the incessant attacks on the cleric by those alleging that he ( Kukah ) sought to instigate violence and hinder national integration with his message .
He , however, said that with the prolonged security and economic challenges facing the country , the Catholic Church in Nigeria stood by Kukah ’ s position on the state of the nation .
Umoh said , “ As expected, the agents of evil have gathered to attack the person of the Bishop and to discredit the simple obvious truth of the message . This is the stock in trade of evil people .
“ However, they often succeed when good people , Christians , choose to do nothing . We are therefore calling attention to this new development so that we can all rise in unison and stand for truth .
“ The truth about our nation is also that there are only two parties now existing: the good and the evil , the oppressed and the oppressor, the suffering people and the benefiting government officers and their families .”
Meanwhile, the Coalition of Northern Groups thought otherwise and vowed to drag the Bishop Kukah to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
The CNG ’ s spokesperson , Abdul -Azeez Suleiman , who made the position of the group known in a statement on Monday , said Kukah ’ s declaration was aimed at inciting Nigerians against each other , noting that it was pathway to genocide .
According to Suleiman , “ We therefore give notice to Kukah and his fellow instigators and perpetrators of all hate crimes that the CNG is ready and willing to take matters to the International Criminal Court for redress where local remedies could not be provided against their irresponsible actions .”
The group also reminded the government of the need to checkmate all religious groups and religious teachings that undermine Nigeria ’s peace , security, and peaceful coexistence .
SMBLF backs Kukah
In the same vein , the Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum on Monday condemned the outbursts of the Presidency and the Northern Elders Forum over the Christmas Day message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Hassan Kukah .
The organisation reminded the Federal Government and “ its attack dogs that in the past ” , they had equally welcomed the forthright views of the cleric.
The SMBLF expressed its concern in a statement by Yinka odumakin ( South -West ) , Chief Guy Ikoku ( South East) , Senator Bassey Henshaw ( South – South ) and Dr . Isuwa Dogo ( Middle Belt ) , titled , ‘ You cannot suppress the voice of reason’.
The statement reads , “ The outspoken cleric who has been a beacon of truthfulness over the years , remains a foremost defender of the aspirations of millions of Nigerians across ethnic and religious lines . On this occasion, his comments have been applauded by majority of Nigerians and we all stand with him. ”